Animal Crossing. Need we say more? The Nintendo Switch-exclusive social simulator game has taken the world by storm, especially now during a time of pandemic where quarantines and self-isolation are the norm. Everyone's looking for an excuse to escape this harsh reality we are all currently living in, and nothing cures that more than spending hours of pure, wholesome fun with Animal Crossing, playing it with friends and the people you love.
Recently, the world was made just a few degrees happier after a couple got engaged on a livestream of Animal Crossing. The game just happened to be updated to the newest version featuring a fireworks show which happens every Sunday. That specific feature became the staging ground for an unforgettably-epic marriage proposal.
As of this writing, their marriage proposal video on Facebook has garnered more than 5,400 (positive) reactions, commented on more than 1,100 times, and has been shared more than 1,600 times.
Him: "Will you marry me?" Her: "What?"
Julius Puentes and Maria Joriza Bondoc have been in Western Australia for more than a year, and have recently completed their double degree Master of Science program with the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the Curtin University-Western Australia School of Mines (WASM) for MS Chemical Engineering and MS Metallurgical Engineering.
As it turns out, Julius and Maria would have gotten back to the Philippines sooner had the COVID-19 pandemic not happened. Both are chemical engineers by profession, and are currently working as research assistants at WASM until they can catch an available flight back home.
The two have been together for seven years. "We met at UST and were batchmates during our undergrad, but back then we were not even friends," Maria said, laughing.
"I dispute this," Julius interrupted. "I confessed to have a little crush on her and she still doesn’t believe me sometimes."
It was in April that both started playing Animal Crossing. The game's major draw for them was the ability to build your own island, customize it to your liking, and how it encourages people to work together by visiting other people's islands to acquire resources. "Also, all the species and artworks are based on real life so people can actually learn from the game," added Julius.
Maria had been eyeing Animal Crossing since it was first announced last year. She is also a Mobile Legends gamer and confesses, "Even when playing Mobile Legends, I only use cute heroes as my main (e.g. Lolita, Nana, Angela)." She saw the same appeal with AC, but quickly discovered how the game goes beyond what people perceived.
"I realised that Animal Crossing is more than just a cute game," asserted Maria. "It is a very informative and cooperative game. It helped me to recover from my severe anxiety and even encouraged me to stream."
Which brings us to this absolutely magical moment:
"Bakit sa stream???"
In the seven years they've been together Julius had planned, by his estimate, countless times and multiple proposal scenarios. After promising to himself that he will "go for it" after they finish their Masters in Australia and get back home, well... the pandemic happened.
"I always imagined going back to UST and proposing in front of our main building with our families, friends and the Thomasian community," he said. With that moment shelved, Julius thought of a Plan B which involved their UST island in Animal Crossing.
"Nintendo recently updated the game and included fireworks," Julius explained. "So, I updated my proposal plan as well and secretly designed custom fireworks to spell out the 'Will You Marry Me?' It was perfect, because it reminded us of the UST Paskuhan feels at the same time."
On the day, Julius asked a few of their close friends to visit them at their flat – they're the ones you hear cheering in the background. He also contacted friends and family in the Philippines, including the Animal Crossing community to view the livestream. The couple's best friend, Kuya Keneth Senyahan, was in the Philippines and Julius had requested him to join them in-game to help open a "virtual" box with the "virtual" engagement ring.
"I was nervous and excited at the same time," Julius recalled of the moment. "Since we share our UST island, it was very difficult to prepare a surprise because she might come across it if ever she plays. So, I had to do most of the prep during her stream day. I made her busy the whole day."
An alternate view of the joyful chaos.
Judging by her reaction on the video, Maria was not expecting a proposal especially on Animal Crossing. "I never really expected for it to be during one of my streams," she explained. "I’ve always imagined it to be intimate because, while Julius is romantic and confident in person, he plays the shy type in front of the camera."
Maria breaks down the scene as it unfolded, "When I read 'Will You,' I was really shocked. But then again, I couldn’t read the words 'Marry Me' from the stream. If you play the clip again, I asked him 'What?' Then he bended on one knee and opened the box and cried… that moment I felt his sincerity and overflowing love. Then I cried and said 'Yes.'"
"I think I gave him a mild slap, too, before saying 'yes,'" she continued.
Maria further confessed that she had been joking with him since the start of their relationship that she would probably say "maybe" if he proposed to her, just to make it funny. "But I obviously failed," she laughed.
"The moment was too perfect, and I love him so much," beamed Maria.
Again, with the current pandemic, Julius and Maria won't be able to finalise their wedding plans as of yet, but they are already hard at work with the prenup. "We plan to DIY our prenup since we also enjoy doing vlogs, music, photo and videography on our channel (PLF Studios)," both affirmed. "For the other details, both of us agreed to keep our wedding simple and intimate."
For the two, Animal Crossing seems like the perfect intro to building a healthy, married life. "The best part of playing Animal Crossing with your partner is you get to build an island together," the two related. "You basically help each other in design planning, resources acquisition, species and art collections. It strengthens your relationship as a couple in a way as you progress and finish the game together, so it’s all worth it in the end. After all, we got engaged while playing the game."
Images and videos: Julius Puentes